It’s no secret that the Mercedes Sprinter van is regarded as a top adventure vehicle choice to convert into a camper. Sprinters are no exception when it comes to the Mercedes Benz luxury, reliability, and style.
In this article, we break down the reasons why you would choose the Sprinter van for your camper conversion.
- We’ll go over why the cost to own a Sprinter is worth its weight in gold.
- We’ll review the upgraded driving experience that was introduced in the 2019 model.
- We’ll discuss top questions on special situations such as additional passengers, standing room, sleeping space, factory 4-wheel drive availability, and more.
Before we dive in, we’d like to call attention to the top vans in the U.S. market for camper conversions. Aside from the Mercedes Sprinter, they are other vans such as, Ford Transit, RAM Promaster, Nissan NV, and Volkswagen Bus.
We will not be addressing these alternatives in this article. Instead, we will stay laser-focused on reviewing the features of the Mercedes Sprinter and what makes it a great choice for van conversions.
Cost to Own a New Sprinter
At the time of this writing, the MSRP for the Sprinter starts at $34,495, making it an affordable entry-point as other brands.
Visit MBVans.com to check out all of the options and upgrades.
Although the entry price point is getting closer to its competitors, once you make your upgrade choices, the outgoing price tag can still end up being hefty.
This is largely due to some key factors.
For one, the camper conversion will add considerable weight to the vehicle, requiring the van to be able to handle this persistent payload.
We recommend at least the Sprinter 2500.
Second, most van conversions are done on a 6-cylinder diesel engine.
Those two features alone start at a higher MSRP than the base price.
What else are you getting at this price point? We highlight some of the best-in-class features below.
Aesthetics - Most people will agree that the Sprinter simply looks better than the competition—from the van contours to the color choices.
Design - Mercedes has been building vans since 1896. First introduced in 1995, the Sprinter has had 26 years of innovation under its belt.
Feature-rich - With the popularity of #vanlife, Mercedes recognized the need to provide consumer-grade luxury in their cargo van. Starting in 2019, Sprinters include the Mercedes Benz User Experience (MBUX) Touchscreen and other modern driving features.
Comfort and Safety - Drive more safely with standard and optional features, such as keyless start, cross wind assist, hill start assist, lane and break assists, rear view camera, blind spot assist, and parking assist.
High resale value - Its popularity and dependability keep the price of older Sprinters higher, compared to other vans.
More power - GVWR increased from 8,550 to up to 12,125 lbs. The 2500 chassis has a towing capacity of 5,000 lbs. The 3500 chassis has a towing capacity of 7,500 lbs.
We dive deeper into some of these key features, as it relates to using the van as a camper. Before we do, we want to make clear the real reason people overwhelmingly choose a Sprinter over other vans in the market.
If you were to decide on a van purely on a tight budget, then you would probably look elsewhere. However, if budget is not a primary decision point and other factors are, then it would be worth your time and attention to read on.
Considerations When Buying a Sprinter Van
Not everyone has an unlimited budget and can spare no expense in purchasing a Sprinter, then making additional investments to convert it into a camper van.
There are lots of things to consider during the buying process.
Initially, most people look for reliability and function. After that, you may also want premium features that can take your experience to a level 10 or even 11.
- Will the driving experience be entertaining and comfortable, so that you’re not completely exhausted when you arrive at your destination?
- Will you have peace of mind, knowing that you and your passengers are riding in a vehicle that is properly equipped to keep everyone safe?
- Will you have that critical life-line to Mercedes in the event that you will need assistance on the road, whether you are stuck on a long stretch of highway or out in the middle of nowhere?
- For taller folks, let’s explore your options to make the most of your space.
We address these and more in the following paragraphs.
Sprinter’s Unsurpassed Driving Comfort and Safety
It’s nearly impossible to cover all of the features available in the current Sprinter models, especially that new features are added every year.
Instead, we want to encourage you to get the most accurate features listing from Mercede’s official site.
Here, we highlight the top features that camper van owners are most concerned about, as well as shed light on little-known features that can improve your travel experience that much more.
Planning on Driving Long Distances? No Problem!
- Fit your seat and steering wheel to your height and body size
- Get reachable access to the dashboard
- An ergonomic multifunction steering wheel, equipped with essential controls without distracting you from traffic.
- Upgrade to the MBUX Touchscreen to enjoy additional high-tech features
Rear Camera and Turning Radius
Get in and out of tight spots with the aid of the 360-degree camera and tight turning radius.
The Sprinter is more narrow than its competitors, and this is both good and bad.
- For tall folks, the narrowness can be a hindrance when it comes to the length of the camper bed (discussed more below).
- For those that need to get in and out of tight spots, it’s narrow body makes it a lot easier to maneuver around.
Driving Safety Borrowed from Consumer Vehicles
Mercedes knows that many Sprinter van owners are driving this for adventure, not just for work. The cargo van is no longer solely for commercial use.
To address this growing trend of new consumers, Mercedes has equipped the newer Sprinter models with driving features that most drivers expect in a luxury vehicle.
It’s been said that the Sprinter now drives like an SUV. As a caveat, please keep in mind that the Sprinter is a van that is taller and carries more weight than a typical SUV. Please drive accordingly.
Camper Vans for Taller People
Finding a van that is comfortable to drive and sleep in is essential. After all, your campervan is your tiny house on wheels. It needs to carry with it at least the basic comforts of home.
For folks over six feet tall, a van’s height and width are taken into serious consideration.
Is the van tall enough to stand up in? If this is a requirement, then you’re in luck. According to the Mercedes website [https://www.mbzla.com/mercedes-benz-sprinter-dimensions/], here are the height and width dimension
- Interior Standing Height: 67.7 inches
- Maximum Cargo Bed Length: 132.9 inches
Now, once you build out your camper, the actual dimensions will be less. You have to account for the ceiling, floor, and walls.
This is a known set-back that keeps some people from choosing the Sprinter for their camper van.
Some camper van layouts solve this by installing the bed lengthwise from back to front of the van. The downside is that this ends up taking valuable space inside the van.
An alternative layout has the bed lengthwise from side to side. At Vanspeed Shop, we are able to increase the bed length with body flares that extend the bed space up to 6’ 5”.
This lets you optimize your space. Plus, the flares create two cutouts that let you store small items.
2-Wheel Drive vs 4-Wheel Drive
Can you get just as much performance on off-road travels with a 2-Wheel Drive?
The current Sprinter model year now comes with two engine options—a 4-cylinder turbo gas engine and a 6-cylinder turbo diesel engine.
2-Wheel Drive: turbocharged gas engine
Great for lighter weight travel adventures. While it’s possible to convert this gas engine into a camper van, Vanspeed Shop recommends the diesel engine.
- 4-cylinder gas engine
- Not available in the diesel engine
- Increased payload compared to the 4-wheel drive, allowing you to carry more gear
- Not available on all Sprinter models
- Costs less than the 4-wheel drive
2-Wheel Drive: turbocharged diesel engine
Great for all-around travel—Road, gravel, and light terrain. This is the perfect option for you if you want the best of all worlds (cost-effective, drive almost anywhere, take more gear with you). Diesel engines have a bit more overall power than their gasoline counterparts.
4-Wheel Drive: turbocharged diesel engine
Great for the winter traveler and the expedition adventurer. This is the perfect option for you if you prioritize the ability to handle challenging terrain, such as snow. Only the select adventure traveler will need a 4x4.
- 6-cylinder engine diesel
- Not available in the gas engine
- Greater base weight than the 2 wheel drive, reducing your payload
- Hard to come by. Mercedes only produces a limited number of 4x4 vehicles a year.
- Not available on all Sprinter models
- Costs more than the 2-wheel drive (about $8,000 difference at the time of this writing)
If you’d like to crunch the numbers on the total cost of ownership for different Sprinter vans or even compare to other van makers, click here. https://www.mbvans.com/en/total-cost-operation.
Mercedes Customer Care
Mercedes prides itself in providing excellent customer service. They have an overall commitment to value and care.
As an example, you can read more about their Roadside Assistance program here: https://www.mbvans.com/en/parts-services/roadside-assistance
In summary, as of this writing, they offer the following:
- 24/7 calls for assistance
- Tire replacement with a spare
- Battery jump start
- 3-5 gallons of fuel
- Free towing to the next Mercedes Benz dealership
Considering Vanspeed Shop? Here are Your Sprinter Options
To summarize, the Sprinter comes with two wheelbase choices (144 and 170), three lengths, and two roof heights (low roof and high roof).
The 144 wheelbase is sufficient for most #vanlife travelers, even if you are traveling with kids and need additional seats.
This shorter wheelbase makes it easy to travel around town and park in normal parking lots. The only issue may be a parking garage, which typically are not tall enough for Sprinters.
The 170 wheelbase is the best choice for families, long-term travel, or if you have a lot of big gear (mountain bikes, surf boards, climbing, etc.) and want extra room for comfort.
Vanspeed Shop Semi-Custom Van Conversions
At Vanspeed Shop, we convert high roof Sprinters (Cargo Van, Crew Van, and Passenger Van) in the 144 and 170 wheelbases.
If you want to carry additional passengers, we offer several seat types.
Have a low roof or extended version? Call us for conversion options.
Putting it all Together—Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Let’s wrap up with a word on Vanspeed Shop and the customers we serve. We are a Sprinter van camper conversion company based in Southern California.
We convert vans to suit the various outdoor enthusiasts, whether that’s the weekend warrior, long-term traveler, off-gridder, full-time roadie, daily commuter, or even the mobile business professional.
Have Questions? Ask Us!
Give us a call or come by the shop. Our address is in the footer of this page.
- The Vanspeed Shop Team